Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

788 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 788
Hads: 3,218
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,208
Gots: 1,179 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006

Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here:  http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/p ... 14/141724/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 788 | Hads: 3,218
Photo of HoldensHomebrew
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A-Black thick oil liquid black. Just as a Good Imperial Stout should be. VERY long lasting light brown head.

S- Milk chocolate and roasted malts dominate.

T-Chocolate and roast blend but not what I expected from this very hyped beer. I was left wanting, it is a decent stout but nothing exceptional.

M-Medium full bodied, would have preferred a more viscous fluid to chew on.

D-Was good, not great. Expected more, was left wanting. It doesn't compare to some of the other great Imp Stouts wondering out there. Wish for a more balance smooth flavor with it also being more intense. (600 characters)

Photo of hellbilly
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

someone opened this at bill and wendy's though i'm pretty sure everyone in the room had one with them!...

2008 with a bitchin' label... pours just lighter than black with a light tan head which lingers and leaves an abundance of spotty lacing. pine-like hops hit the nose first but soon turn to sinus numbing citrus peel... secondary scents of chocolate, malt powder, nutty/coffee, grass and leafy green hops.

the palate is quite sweet... almost to cloying but the power of the hops make it a bit easier to enjoy. the flavor shares the characters of the aroma but also has some woodiness and a distinct savory note. there is a long lingering aftertaste of malted chocolate malted milk with pine needles in it. medium to medium/full bodied with a creamy almost oily mouth feel. pine-like and leafy hops keep it really easy to drink and bring it back from the brink of sticky...8/4/7/4/17/4.0 (893 characters)

Photo of Etan
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle shared by Oscar. Thanks!

A: Pours a dark cola color with a small tan head.

S: First off comes a sweet citric hoppiness. The hop notes mix with dark chocolate and roasted grain. It's actually smelling quite sweet, which I wasn't expecting.

T: Light charred bread, sweet milk chocolate, a bit of sticky pine resin and grapefruit hoppiness, cocoa, sugary grain.

M: Thick-bodied, low carbonation.

O: An enjoyable beer, although it was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, and a bit sweeter than I would have liked. (526 characters)

Photo of ghostwalker
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Edition
Appearance: Dead black body, light mocha head.

Nose: Light, not much. I expected more aroma.

Flavor: Semi-light for an RIS, hoppy. Cocoa and cofee on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin but coating.

Overall: Rich, flavorful, surprisingly drinkable. A really good RIS, only marred by the thin body. (307 characters)

Photo of TCMike
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a mug. It's called Darkness for a reason, this stuff is black. It had a 3 finger caramel head which took quite a while to dissipate.
The smell was different. I picked up an olive, wine, plum like smells.
The taste was that of a thick, and powerful potion, with a middling bitter at the end. It was good, but not one to drink in mass quantities. It's one that I'll try again at the next release. (407 characters)

Photo of BarrytheBear
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09' Mummy vintage into my go-to stout approved snifter

Dark pour with a beautiful cinnamon colored fluffy head: nice

Smells perplexing with an initial whiff of powdery cocoa, currant, and a hefty dose of vegetative hops. There is a prevalent scent that I cannot wrap my senses around. It's alternately pleasantly sweet and sickening so. My beak hovers over the glass in a vain attempt to understand.

The initial taste matches the nose quite well. Sweetness is kept in check by a medley of light chocolate, currant, and a dark fruit/berry medley - plums? Leafy plantlike hops add a nice finishing shot. Served right out of the cellar at 55, this was quite appealing. As the beer warms, it becomes more muddled. Sweetness begins to overpower this beer and it's more difficult to separate the enjoyable initial layers. Borders on cloying.

Initially, on the tongue, this beer is a bit oily, but once it hits the back of the throat it's a stouty milkshake, almost chewy.

The drinkability on this beer decreases as it warms. While not overpowering, the alcohol creeps in as the bottle dwindles. (1,094 characters)

Photo of andrewinski1
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2009, but drank today. Poured into a tulip. A large, tiny bubbled light brown head fills the glass. It's about 3 inches and doesn't settle down for a while.

There is an overwhelming aroma of chocolate. A bit of hop aroma is noticed, but it is quite secondary.

The taste starts out sweet and chocolatey. The roasted flavor is relatively mild here. Most bitterness that is detected is in the finish and I would attribute it to a hoppy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is full and smooth. This is a thick brew. The carbonation is appropriately smooth, and not prickly.

This is a really big, kind of sweet stout. A very good offering. (639 characters)

Photo of Casey10
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have had this in my cellar for some time as it is the 2008 edition. I tried it and felt it somewhat average.

The beer was a nice black and chocolate look.

S - Some chocolate notes some coffee not really strong.

T - was good did not blow me away it had a bit of chocolate coffee taste a bit astingent but not bad.

M- chewy is the best I can decribe it it went down a little tough, not bad bet did not blow me away.

D - A little low because it was hard to come by and not too sure if I would have another. Might have another year but for this year that is waht I am rating it. (583 characters)

Photo of emmasdad
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick, oily and black, so black no light passes through, with a nice mocha head. Big aromas on the nose: hops, chocolate, roast, coffee and licorice. The first taste brings a suggestion of hops, followed quickly by warming alcohol. Roasted malt, dark fruit and chocolate covered espresso beans. Finishes thick and rich, with a nice kick of alcohol heat. A very good beer. (377 characters)

Photo of JDV
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huge, huge thanks to miketd for his generousity in hauling this beer down to Texas and sharing it with us!! I've been looking forward to this one for many months.<Br>
Pours dark black with a short lived tan head. Smell is chocolately, some faint cake like sweetness and some really roasty sharp, bitter hops in the nose. Some dryness. Taste is dry, roasty, and very hoppy for the style, and a bit more than I'd like. Somewhat of a meaty, roasty flavor too. Slick, oily mouthfeel. Very good, for sure, with no hint of the ABV, but not my favorite Imperial Stout. (567 characters)

Photo of stealth
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had Darkness on-tap at Darkness Day 2011. Lots of chocolate and dark fruits in the aroma. Some coffee. Extraordinary aroma. First taste was heavenly - tons of chocolate, fruit. I thought chocolate covered figs. Sticky sweetness overtook everything as I worked through each glass, however, and detracted quite a bit from the overall experience. Have some bottles aging in hopes that the sweetness gets a bit subdued. "Did you expect it to be that sweet" was the most common thing I overheard at DD this year. (507 characters)

Photo of indiapaleale
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

~ 2008 Vintage ~
Pour - super dense, rich and thick like motor oil as it drains into a glass leaving a relatively thin velvet-y head. I got a kick out of how viscous this stuff was and the "legs" it left inside the glass as it poured. Damn, this is not for the faint of heart. Be warned.

Aroma - big bready, malty, chocolatey, licorice-y, caramel-y and overall molasess-y. Some alcohol heat comes through in the nose as well. This just smells like it could cause cavities or cause a person's blood sugar to spike.

Taste - MALTY MALT MALT! Wow, this is like drinking malt extract with licorice and brown sugar mixed in. This is borderline cloying its so sweet and dense. I guess you need a literal ton of malt to brew a beer of this magnitude and it certainly does taste that way. Some flavors that I thought were oxidization were just caramel malt and alcohol heat. Even after 18 months in the cellar this is still hot. Brown bread dough soaked in rum and then mixed into a potent stout should sum things up nicely. If you like malty brews this is going to please you, if you want more than strong and dark you might be a bit let down. I need to have some of this fresh to see what those hops (85 IBUs!!!) might do for this brew.

Overall - sweet, very sweet. This is a malt lover's dream and a little more one-sided than I had hoped. It almost reminded me of a super-strong Baltic Porter as it had some licorice and anise notes that were very similar. In the end I'd say it lived up to the hype when it comes to the strength and complexity but was not as drinkable as I had hoped.

Would I buy more of it? - I was fortunate it enough to receive this bottle from a very generous beer loving friend in the Midwest. If I lived within a few hours of Surly I'd certainly make the pilgrimage each year just for the fun of it. (1,830 characters)

Photo of SQNfan
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap: Dark in color with a roasted coffee and chocolate nose. This continues into a palate that I hoped carried a little more density. While a very nice beer I came out with the feeling that some barrel aging would smooth and fill out the midpalate. (251 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of HopsSchnapps! Thanks man!

Cracked at midnight last night, but couldn't finish. Going at it again!

Black. Void of light. Pours with a dark brown finger of head. Smells of char, roast, chocolate and an intense coffee. Tastes more chocolaty. Still some charred notes and roasted notes. Slight hops on the finish. Body is full, creamy and luscious. Finish is so clean and smooth it's scary. (407 characters)

Photo of ccrida
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, cellared since release. Poured into my Delirium Tremens snifter, Darkness is dark, thick, with a dark tan head leaving lots of lace.

Smell is on the sweet, malty side.

Taste is fairly sweet malt, chocolate, modest roast, nice hop bitterness as well as still some spicy, herbal hop flavor. Obviously way dialed down compared to how it is fresh, better integration by now.

Mouthfeel is pretty silky, on the thick side.

Drinkability is fine. It's a well made RIS. Certainly not worth any great expense or hassle to acquire though. I traded mine with a local for some limited release HOTD, dollar for dollar, which was fair. (642 characters)

Photo of BeerTruth
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

younger35 was kind enough to pick up a bottle of this for me. A great trader and a great frined, even though he's a Raiders fan. Thanks a bunch man, you're a true beer advocate.

750 ml multi-color wax dipped bottle poured into a snifter. 2008 vintage. Served at about 50 degrees.

Pours a complete onyx black with a powerful two finger dark brown head that remains for quite sometime. After a good five minutes or so and lots of clingy spiderweb lacing on the sides of the glass, a creamy layer of goodness rests atop the black hole underneath. Smell...whoa hops. Sticky pine, bitter pink grapefruit, and raw gritty earth up front in the nose. Underneath all those hops is the dark stuff. Coffee grinds, sweet molasses, and heavy roasted malts add to the complex aroma. So much going on in the nostrils, time for a sip. Taste begins with burnt caramel, candy sugar, and smokey dark chocolate. Some booze, figs, and oily hops midway. Not nearly as much hop flavor on the tongue than were in the smell, but they're still there. Finishes with a gooey brownie batter, raspberries, and spruce. Do I dare say there's too much going on for the taste buds to function? Perhaps. Big, bold, and chewy feel with a full body and subtle carbonation. The one problem I find with the mouthfeel is the powerful bittering hop sting. Overall the 10% abv is hidden quite well, but Darkness is still a sipper. Needless to say, this is a super complex, big ass beer and definitely one of a kind. Good? Of course. Exceptional? That may be a stretch. Surly continues to produce some crazy beers, what's next??? Thanks again Dan. (1,606 characters)

Photo of Nashvillain
3.86/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Version, Gold Wax and a fucking VAMPIRE on the front.

I really do think the appearance of the actual beer is amazing, but I love that label art. The beer itself pulls a pitch black into the glass and lets NO light through. Darkness is right. Head retention is decent, leaves a perfect lacing behind.

Smell is booze, licorice, faint coffee, booze, roast, a light milk chocolate, and booze.

Taste is heavy handed on the licorice with chocolate and booze providing backup. I can't say it's not good, but I just don't get as much out of this as I thought I would. Definitely thankful to get a bottle either way though. There may have been hops here at one point which would make everything that much more interesting, but they're gone now for sure.

Overall a good beer but not as great as expected. Maybe it's meant to be had fresh at which point I'll alter the review but for now the only thing legendary about this beer is the label. (940 characters)

Photo of dgilks
3.86/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky, oily, deep and penetrating black. Big, creamy tan head. Very nice.

Heavily alcoholic nose. Very big. Sweet and very rich. Moderate roast and coffee.

Big. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Chocolate is there as is some roast and caramel.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

I just can't do these beers anymore. It is just a big diabetes bomb of sugar and alcohol. Seriously lacking in complexity and character to round out the malt and add balance. (451 characters)

Photo of butlerj
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

If Pepsi and espresso could somehow produce offspring, (with Mr Vodka, the pizza delivery guy, showing up for a little tag team action during the conception,) this year's Darkness would be the spawn.

It's kind of rich to be drinking 24oz of it all at once, but the flavor is good. (282 characters)

Photo of beerhan
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at a tasting, poured into a wine glass. 2010 Vintage.

A-Darkness, nothing else but a faint tan head.

S-Very roasty and incredibly dark cocoa.

T-A little smokey, malty. Hints of dark chocolate, very dry. Not at all sweet. This one reminded me of IST a little bit with this one taste surrounding it that I am yet to figure out what it is.

M-I love the feel of a thick stout. This one is pretty close to perfect. Slight carbonation and nice and chewy. I dock it a little because I sampled this in the summer and it was a little too rich for the time.

O-I feel that this beer was just a little too dry and roasty. Out of the bigger stouts out there I feel that this one could use some more time to age before trying again. I would love to try it again but not fresh. (778 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.
*sigh* Another overhyped beer.

Looked like a stout should: dark brown-black pour, with a small tan head that sank to a ringlet and left some splashes of lace on the glass. Aroma was typical as far as stouts go, dark roasty malts, some cocoa bitterness, with notes of herbal hops and anise. Same story on the palate, dark malts, dark chocolate, herbal hops, light woody notes, and a touch of dark fruits and licorice; slightly lingering resiny bitterness in the aftertaste. Good, but not very full in flavor like a good stout should be. I'm not really understanding the hype over this beer...you get about the same effect as you would from a Storm King, and I can get that off the shelf any day of the week. Not full-bodied, but on the heavier side of medium. A decent stout, but pretty standard overall. (818 characters)

Photo of auroracrisis
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Got this one from Mistofminn in a trade, thanks again!

Poured black and thick with a big head. The head was probably three inches on my first pour and as the brew was drank down it had little lacing. I think the lacing was due to the glass it was in which had been in the dishwasher.

Smell was a bit underwhelming. Earthy hops and roasted coffee with sweet chocolate. I was hoping for something that just jumped out of the glass at me but it wasn't happening for some reason.

Taste was unlike any RIS I have ever had. Opened up with lots of earthy hops which moved into sweet chocolate and roasted coffee. As the beer warmed I could taste a bit of alcohol but not much.

Mouthfeel was alright. I'd say light to medium body for an RIS. Wasn't bad but wasn't great.

Drinkability was good. Not something I could drink pitcher after pitcher of but it was solid. I had no problem finishing the 22oz on my own.

Overall, I would say this one was a great beer but didn't live up to the hype. Maybe it's better on tap? Not saying it's a bad beer but it's not mind blowingly good or anything. I enjoyed it though. Thanks Brad! (1,164 characters)

Photo of smm
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2009 bottle I picked up last year and have been saving for either something special or whenever October rolled around again.

Appearance: Black like night. Thin foamy tan head.

Smell: Sweet, very very sweet. Raisins and Alcohol, I was expecting some chocolate but there isn't any.

Taste: The taste is quite close to the smell, dark and fruity, a bit hoppy. The hoppiness really lingers which I wasn't expecting.

Mouthfeel: Amazing, very very mellow. Theres a bit of zip on the tip of the tongue from the hops, very low carbonation, but really well balanced. Leaves you with the feeling of having a tablespoon of syrup in your mouth.

Drinkability: I think one bottle will be enough for me. The abv doesn't really weigh it down while drinking it, but the sweetness is a bit too much.

I enjoyed the 2009, but I'd like to see how it has changed in 2010. If the sweetness dropped down a bit I would love it. (917 characters)

Photo of walshclimb
3.81/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a 3 oz pour at Firkin Fest, Minneapolis. Very interesting overall, but I think it needs to age more. Appearance is black with a thick tan head and continuous bubbly lace. Smells big and hoppy - pine and citrus. Big sweet malt flavor with a little less hop overtone than expected from the smell. Aftertaste is malty with hint of bitterness. Mouthfeel is very syruppy coating your tongue and keeping the sweet maltiness around. Overall, I am not sure. I enjoyed it, but I don't know how much more than a 3 oz pour I would want. Interesting, but needs to age maybe to mellow out. I would love to try it again in 6 months. (622 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.81/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle drank into my Darkness tulip...A dark as midnight night with a huge dark tan head. The head is amazing as it literally arises from beneath the beer foaming up a full four fingers. The head is two colors, dark tan on the bottom with a lighter color on the top. The retention and lacing are amazing...The aroma is muted from the 09 version in terms of the hops as they do not show through. Very malty, lots of sweet milk chocolate with a hint of grass on the back. Not what I was expected, but still pretty decent...The taste thankfully brings out more of the hops as this has a grassy hop backbone from start to finish. A lot of the sweetness is gone, only a little is left but as it warms the hops disappear too. This turns into a really boring beer, so disappointing.

The 09 version is so much better than this, the 10 is just a big let down. (857 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 788 ratings.